Pork roll, egg, and cheese. On a round roll (usually buttered). With ketchup. If you're from NJ, you know what I'm talking about. One of the greeziest, high calorie, fat laden breakfast sammiches around. And simply divine. I'm not going to go into what, exactly, pork roll is. Because honestly, I don't know what's in it. And I don't care. I'll just say it's mainly a breakfast meat, it's good, and I can't get it in New Orleans.
I live in a city that is known worldwide for its food and, even though I'm not a seafood eater, you can tell just by looking at me that I don't often miss a meal. But sometimes you just want what you grew up with. There are very few things that I miss about my former home....my parents, occasionally (I'm kidding!), my BFF, the ocean, and certain food items. Pork roll being one, but I'd say that the biggest food void is pizza. For the most part, the pizza in New Orleans is an abomination. Some more edible than others, but not good. To give you an idea of how much I miss NJ pizza: On my last visit I took a picture of a pie with mushrooms that now serves as the desktop background on my laptop. I look at it with longing every day and want to put my face in the cheesy, sloppy, goodness of it. There is one place down here that comes close to the stuff I grew up with and that's Venezia on Carrollton Ave. But I hardly get up that way anymore. Truthfully, Italian food in general is lacking here. A lot of the Italian places are not owned by Italians. The red sauce is usually sweet, they make calzones without ricotta cheese, and I don't think I've ever found a decent chicken marsala besides the one that comes out of my own kitchen. The same goes for meatballs. I can't abide frozen meatballs. Thankfully, a new place opened in the CBD called Red Gravy (and it's not sweet!) where the owner feels the same way. Guess what? She's from NJ. I've become addicted to the meatball parm sammich over there and it saves me from having to make meatballs and sauce every time I crave them.
My list of missed NJ favorites is long - DeLorenzo's pizza, Chicken Valentino @ The Farnsworth House (their ricotta cheesecake too!), Rosario's calzone, a good cheesesteak from anywhere, Pete's Pizza @ Columbus Market, fine Italian dining in the Chambersburg section of Trenton. But I've developed some favorites here too - the stuffed chicken or chicken parm @ Adolfo's, the mushroom cheeseburger @ Port of Call, the panne'd chicken w/ fettuccine alfredo @ Coop's, the brisket w/ horseradish sauce from Tujague's served in the setting of French Quarter Festival. The one difference between the two lists is that there is a nostalgic component to the NJ list. I have some great memories that were created with friends and family while dining. I miss the dinners with a group of my girlfriends, the impromptu cocktails and dinners at The Farnsworth House, Thursday night "steak nights" and cocktails with my BFF Liz at Eddie's. I miss the female connections. I don't really have that in New Orleans. But what I do have is the luxury of taking my meals in an atmosphere that I wouldn't trade for the world. I am surrounded by beauty here, some of it unconventional and decaying, and while it may be lonely at times, I feel incredibly free and fortunate.
Now, if I could only get them to open a DeLorenzo's down here.........